In Vain were founded in 2003. They were formed in Kristiansand, Norway and are a band with such a unique sound that just keeps evolving over time like a fine wine. Each recording raises the bar for themselves and provides an all out assault of diversity that will keep you wanting more. What you wish, they will supply in spades.
In Vain’s unique sound can be described as Progressive Extreme Metal but includes a melodic flare that has beauty and elegance but also a raw explosive brutality and in your face momentum. The creators of this monster and the genius behind this diversity are Johnar Håland on guitars, Andreas Frigstad providing the main vocals, Sindre Nedland on the keyboards, piano, organ and providing clean vocals, Stig Reinhardtsen behind the drumkit, Kristian Wikstøl on the bass and providing harsh vocals and Kjetil Pedersen on guitars. I wanted to give the fans, new and old, a brief history of the band’s discography and give a little more insight into In Vain and what the sum of the parts are before we get into our interview about the preproduction of their new album set to be released later this year.
A raging tempest is not known for equally offering clarity of precision and a seductive expanse of temptation but then the maelstrom of creative imagination which breeds within Norwegians In Vain is like no other. Since making their impressive mark with two early EPs, the Kristiansand band has continually exposed the metal world to a form of aggressively inventive progressive extreme metal veined by diverse flames of melodic and impassioned persuasion which is persistently impacting for thoughts and inciting upon emotions.
Signing with Indie Recordings in 2005 In Vain startled and enraptured the metal world with debut album “The Latter Rain” two years later. It was an epic project involving close to 20 guest musicians and several guest vocalists including the legendary Jan K. Transeth (ex-In the Woods…) and Kjetil Nordhus (Tristania, ex-Green Carnation, ex-Trail of Tears), and a release which immediately had the music press united in acclaiming its ground-breaking classic status.
A successful European tour alongside Battered and label mates Vreid followed, as well as performances at numerous festivals such as the Inferno Festival, before the band settled into starting work on their second album. Released in 2010 “Mantra”, thrust the band to the higher echelons of extreme metal alongside the heavyweights of the genre. The album held the breath and heart of their previous releases but took them and their invention into new explorations of every aspect of their songwriting and sound. Again critical plaudits were enthusiastic with quotes like…“This highly agile and expansive “Mantra” should be on your ‘best of 2010’ list if you are a metal fan with a shred of openness to a few things non-metallic.”
2013 saw In Vain unveil their most innovative and imaginatively versatile work to date. Third album “Ænigma” took eight rich and expansive tracks borne of In Vain’s unique trademarked sound honed into a towering and inventively provocative fire of uncompromising pleasure. Mixed and produced by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios (Opeth, Soilwork, Borknagar, etc.), the album as previous releases featured guest appearances from musicians bringing their exceptional craft and passion across a variety of instruments such as strings and horns, artists such as Lazare and Cornelius from Solefald. In regard to the striking and rewarding production from Jens Bogren upon the album Johnar goes on to say “We had a solid impression of the productions coming out of the Fascination Street Studio, and believed Jens was the right guy to give the music the crystal clear and powerful sound that it demands. Jens did not cut any corners and delivered a production par excellence.”
The songs on “Ænigma”, as is normal with In Vain’s creativity, covered a wide range of musical styles, with the core of its music still firmly based in the passion of extreme metal. It brought to light intensely focused songs which set the release apart from their former albums and the band in its own unique plateau within the genre. This view was shared and devoured by fans and the critical media alike, and the album was set high on a multitude of Best of Year lists for 2013.
2016 will be another potent encounter for all from the band through their invention and ever impressive presence. In Vain is a force never resting on laurels and destined to provide a breath-taking provocation over the years to come. This is their time and there is no obstacle able to stop their potent imagination foraging sound; now is the time to immerse in the progressive extreme rapture that is In Vain.
Guitarist Johnar Haland took some time out of his busy schedule to sit with Metalheads Forever Magazine to answer a few questions about pre-production of the new album, the writing process behind this album and the general overall idea and concept that will be the next In Vain effort. So without further adieu, let’s get started with a few questions and get into the nuts and bolts of what will be In Vain’s new recording and next official release . Before we get started please check out this teaser Video, it will give you an idea of what’s in store for the fans and what the sound of the next album will be.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for your fans, new and old, and for taking the time to talk with Metalheads Forever Magazine. We greatly appreciate you being here and I can’t tell you how much we are looking forward to the new album. So with that being said let’s begin.
What is the overall Concept of the new album? And how is it similar and/or different from your previous recordings?
Hello David and thanks for your interest. There is no specific concept, not when it comes to the music or the lyrics. That has also been the case for all our albums so far. The album will showcase a wide range of sub-genres within metal, and each song will stand on its own, musical wise. It is too early to say how it will differentiate from our previous recordings, but I have some ideas on minor adjustments to the production that I hope we can achieve.
How can you compare the writing process of this album with the process of previous albums?
I believe I started writing for this album some time during 2013. Initially I had good progress, but some personal issues put my writing process on halt for almost a year. I guess I had about 40% of the music written before that occurred. When I started to compose again it took me a while to get back into a good songwriting mode and to actually produce anything. In addition, I have been working on the debut album of my other band, From Strength to Strength, which is a hardcore band and we will release our debut album in 2016 or 2017. On top of that I spent the majority of my spare time reading for the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), which is a three year self-study in finance I am doing besides my full-time job. So those are some of the reasons for the delay of this album.
It’s been 4 years since your last recording. As an artist, did your artistic vision and attitude change in that period of time did it evolve as you grew as a person?
Not really. I see bands that from time to time change style on albums, say they do not want to repeat themselves and make the same album twice, etc. That is fine, but so far it is not something I have wanted to do. That being said, I cannot exclude that from happening in the future. In my opinion, In Vain has created a very wide musical playground from the beginning. Since our inception we have had songs that range from Doom to Black Metal and everything in between, so we have a lot of sub-genres in metal to play around with. In addition, we mix in other musical styles but try to blend everything so it sounds natural and balanced. I can assure you that if we had played a very specific and narrow musical style, I would probably have grown tired of that very quickly.
Do you see the album showcasing a new sound or a new vibe? Will we get that signature In Vain sound? Or a mix of old and new?
It will be the signature In Vain sound.
You as an artist, where do you find the inspiration to write and compose?
Same as with most musicians I guess. From other bands, music festivals, travels, films, literature, etc.
The pre-production is perhaps the most important part, because it is in this part you set the songs and the final arrangements. Once the actual recordings have been done, it is more difficult to make changes to the songs. When the recording starts we usually have a good idea of what kind of sound we are going for, so we keep that in mind when we are recording everything. Regardless, it is always exciting to get the first mix and to hear if the sound is what you hoped for at the beginning.
Who else from the band is involved in the writing process? Is it individualized or a team effort?
So far I have written all the music. When I write music I write a song from A-Z, so to speak. I compose for all the instruments, I work a lot with drum arrangements, vocals, other instruments, etc besides all the guitars obviously. I am not the kind of guy who just presents a couple of riffs to the other members and In Vain as a band almost never rehearse. Sometimes I get input from the other guys, but not so much. This time around our other guitarist, Kjetil, has a few song ideas, but I am not really sure what is the current status with those.
Any ideas on the album cover art? Who are you turning to do the design? Your previous album covers are amazing and second to none.
No specific plans as of now. I have some ideas on what kind of look, colors, abstract motives, etc that could fit. In general, we would prefer a non-typical metal cover.
You mentioned a fall release of the new album, is this a tentative date can we expect the unexpected delays or are things running on schedule? Can you confirm a release date ?
We cannot confirm any release date now. It will not be out in 2016. That is not possible because the label needs about 6 months to prepare the release, after the master has been delivered.
As mentioned previously, there is no specific theme on this album.
Where can our fans expect to find In Vain in the coming Months festivals, touring etc?
We are not really touring at this point in time, but instead focusing entirely on the pre-production. However, we might do some shows if they mesh with our schedule.
Any final words for your fans here at Metalheads Forever and around the world?
Salute to all listeners to our music and who still support real art! We will soon have more music available for you and we’ll make sure it will be worth the wait. Please stay updated by following us on facebook.
Once again Johnar I appreciate your time, there were a thousand questions I would liked to have asked you and hopefully once the recording is finished, we can get together and talk about the post production and the finished product as a whole. Many many thanks and good luck and as a fan I can’t wait for the new album, I’m so looking forward to it. Until next time best regards MHF.
by David Maloney